Poultry Farm Biosecurity Plans: A Complete Guide

Discover everything you need to know about poultry farm biosecurity plans and how you can protect your farm from biosecurity hazards like the avian flu.

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Biosecurity is an essential consideration for poultry farms. Threats like avian flu have wreaked havoc on farms around Australia and New Zealand in the past.


As such, creating a poultry farm biosecurity plan is a critical process. It helps to ensure that your own farm is protected. These plans also help to preserve biosecurity around your region and country.


In this complete guide, we'll cover the necessities of poultry farm biosecurity plans. We'll explain why they are so important and what you need to include.


Read on and discover everything you need to know about poultry farm biosecurity plans.

What is a poultry farm biosecurity plan?

A poultry farm biosecurity plan is a document that addresses practices to prevent biosecurity threats. This includes day-to-day and long-term practices.


The primary biosecurity threats for poultry farms are transmissible diseases like avian influenza, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Pests and parasites also present a major threat.


Poultry farm biosecurity plans are primarily designed to mitigate these threats.

See our complete guide to farm biosecurity plans for more information on this style of document.  

Why is a poultry farm biosecurity plan important?

Biosecurity breaches are massively significant for individual properties and wider areas. In the event of an outbreak, a huge part of your flock can be affected. Many other birds will often have to be culled.


Biosecurity breaches can also result in contaminated meat going to market. Contaminated meat can affect consumers who eat it or handle it in its raw form.


As seen recently in Australia, an outbreak of avian influenza can result in catastrophic consequences. The spread of avian flu on one Victorian farm resulted in 500,000 chickens being culled.


Poultry farm biosecurity plans provide a roadmap for practices to prevent biosecurity breaches. They also define the protocols to be followed in the event of a breach.


Poultry farm biosecurity plans also relate to legislation around Australia and New Zealand. In some parts of Australia, it is an offence for property visitors to fail to adhere to biosecurity plans. This gives biosecurity plans legal standing, making them even more important.

Special biosecurity considerations for poultry farms

Biosecurity plans can vary greatly depending on the sub-industry they apply to. Poultry farm biosecurity is unique in several ways.


Here's a brief overview of things to keep in mind when creating a poultry farm biosecurity plan:

  • The most significant element of biosecurity on poultry farms is the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases.

  • Major routes for disease and pathogen spread on poultry farms include the transfer of birds between production areas, dead bird disposal, wild animals, people visiting and living on site, water supplies and feed.

  • Certain biosecurity measures may not be relevant to all poultry species. For example, ratites (emus and ostriches) have some different biosecurity needs compared to other poultry due to their size and production practices.

  • A robust vermin control plan must be implemented. This generally includes regular baiting and monitoring of bait stations.

  • Poultry production areas must have a perimeter fence or a well-defined boundary to establish a biosecurity zone. Protocols must be in place to prevent the access of vehicles or wild animals to production zones.

Poultry biosecurity standards in Australia and New Zealand

When it comes to managing poultry, farmers aren't left on their own. There are numerous standards and regulations across Australia and New Zealand. These initiatives provide requirements and guidelines to follow.


Here are a few of the most significant poultry biosecurity standards in the region:

Understanding and abiding by the best practices for poultry biosecurity is crucial for farmers. Creating a poultry farm biosecurity plan is an essential element.

What do poultry farm biosecurity plans cover?

When it comes to biosecurity, farmbiosecurity.com.au is one of the most important resources available to farmers and growers. It is a joint initiative of Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia. farmbiosecurity.com.au is often cited by governments when it comes to creating biosecurity plans.


New Zealand farmers can look to resources such as the biosecurity module of the Taking an Integrated Approach to Farm Planning framework. However, the key principles addressed on farmbiosecurity.com.au are generally just as relevant for New Zealand farmers.


Per farmbiosecurity.com.au, there are six "biosecurity essentials''. They are:

  • Farm inputs

  • Farm outputs

  • People, vehicles and equipment

  • Production practices

  • Ferals and weeds

  • Train, plan and record

Let's take a look at these essential elements and analyse how they relate to your poultry farm biosecurity plan. This is not an exhaustive overview of everything that should go into your biosecurity plan. However, it is an excellent starting point for understanding the principles that should go into it.

Farm inputs

If a biosecurity event occurs on your poultry farm, chances are it is due to an external threat. According to farmbiosecurity.com.au, biosecurity threats can be present in "almost anything moved onto your property".


When addressing farm inputs in a poultry farm biosecurity plan, here are some of the most important areas to consider:

  • Feed: Feed supplies brought onto your farm may carry pests, diseases and parasites. To prevent this from happening, always request a Commodity Vendor Declaration (CVD) when purchasing feed. Observe expiration dates for feed and store it correctly.

  • Water: Pests and diseases can survive for a long time in water until finding another host. It is critical to regularly inspect water sources and ensure they are not accessed by wild animals. Keep water troughs high and clean them regularly to mitigate the impact of faeces. Additionally, do not allow water sources to stagnate as this can encourage the spread of pests, diseases and parasites.

  • New animals: The introduction of new animals onto your property can present biosecurity risks. Without showing any signs, they may be carrying pests, diseases and parasites. When acquiring new birds, ensure you have all necessary records of health status. Only acquire new birds from trusted sources.

Farm outputs

As Australia's recent outbreak of avian influenza has shown, the impacts of biosecurity breaches can extend well beyond your property. As a poultry farmer, you have a responsibility to mitigate these external impacts.


That’s why farm outputs are so significant. Here are some ways farm outputs should factor into your poultry biosecurity plan:

  • Transport: When birds are moved from your farm to a processing plant, strict biosecurity procedures must be followed. Ensure that pick-up crews follow protocols around the order of birds being picked up and truck cleaning procedures.

  • Litter: If used litter is collected from your property, ensure that trucks carrying it are cleaned and disinfected between production areas.

  • Records: It's important to maintain records of health activities and treatments, like vaccination, of your flock. This can be critical information in the event of biosecurity issues being caused by a bird from your farm.

People, vehicles and equipment

Anything that comes onto your farm can present a biosecurity risk. Your poultry farm biosecurity plan must therefore also address the potential risks that people, vehicles and equipment coming to your farm can present.

  • Visitors to the property: Poultry farm biosecurity plans must address property visitors. One way to manage visitors is to direct them to a designated parking area away from production areas. You may also need to refuse entry in the case of high-risk visitors.

  • Property access: You must have a limited number of entry points on your property to make visitor management easier. Lock unused gates and ensure access to production areas is limited to a restricted range of personnel.

  • Signage: Use signs to provide clear instructions to visitors to your property about biosecurity processes. Biosecurity signage templates are available at farmbiosecurity.com.au.

  • General hygiene: Pests, diseases and parasites can enter your property via visitor's hands, clothing and footwear. In your biosecurity plan, establish the presence and use of washing facilities and footbaths. Alternatively, you may also want to provide alternative footwear and clothing for visitors.

  • Vehicles: Limit the number of vehicles allowed on your property and have designated visitor parking areas. Closely monitor this area for potential biosecurity threats.

  • Vehicle washes: Your farm should offer a designated wash area for vehicles that need to enter production areas. For maximum protection, disinfect vehicles after washing.

  • Equipment: Establish procedures for cleaning and disinfecting farm equipment. Equipment should be cleaned and disinfected if it has been lent out off-farm. You will also need processes for cleaning and disinfecting equipment when it is used between production areas.

Production practices

External factors like inputs and outputs play an important role in poultry farm biosecurity. However, the day-to-day production practices of a farm are just as critical.

  • Animal waste: Implement processes to deal with animal carcasses and waste in a designated area as soon as practical. Ensure this area cannot be accessed by your flock, feral or wild animals.

  • Feed and water troughs: Implement and follow a cleaning roster for feed and water troughs. Keep troughs high so they are not contaminated by faeces.

  • Monitoring: Regularly monitor your flock for pests, diseases and parasites. Help your staff identify common pests and diseases with materials like posters.

  • Product storage: Ensure products like eggs are stored securely to avoid attracting pests or disease organisms.

Ferals and weeds

While weeds generally present less of a risk to poultry farms, feral animals can cause major issues. Your poultry farm biosecurity plan must address this threat.

  • Wild and feral animals: As part of your poultry farm biosecurity plan, create a wild animal and feral control program. Work with your neighbours to implement a coordinated approach to feral animal control.

  • Fencing: Use double fencing where possible to ensure your property boundaries are secure.

  • Property cleanliness: Establish procedures to remove spilled food, rubbish and carcasses from your farm. This helps to prevent attracting pests and wild or feral animals to your farm.

Train, plan and record

To maintain biosecurity over time on your farm, staff training and record keeping is essential. Taking time to invest in these areas will make following your biosecurity protocols easier. Your team will be prepared, and you will have the documentation you need for successful biosecurity protocols.

  • Staff training: Use methods like training sessions and posters to educate and remind staff about the importance of biosecurity.

  • Record keeping: Ensure you have effective record-keeping processes in place on your farm. This should include purchases, sales, health certificates, vaccination records, flock monitoring and more.

How do poultry biosecurity plans relate to legislation?

Another reason poultry biosecurity plans are so important for agribusinesses is due to their relationship with legislation. Around Australia and New Zealand, governments have introduced laws that relate to poultry biosecurity plans.


Here's why a poultry biosecurity farm may be legally significant for your agribusiness, no matter where in Australia or New Zealand you are based.


Keep in mind that this information is general. Laws can change frequently. The best thing to do is seek legal advice or contact relevant government organisations.

New Zealand

New Zealand's Biosecurity Act 1993 does not directly reference biosecurity plans. However, the New Zealand government has emphasised their importance.


It has produced resources like the biosecurity module of the Taking an Integrated Approach to Farm Planning framework to help farmers and growers create biosecurity plans.


Poultry farmers can also refer to the Biosecurity Manual for NZ Meat Chicken Growers.

New South Wales

New South Wales' key piece of biosecurity legislation is the NSW Biosecurity Regulation 2017. In August 2019, this regulation was changed to increase the enforceability of Biosecurity Management Plans. Poultry farm biosecurity plans are a form of biosecurity management plan.


These changes mean that harsh penalties can apply when people entering areas where Biosecurity Management Plans are in place do not comply with them. Penalties can include fines of $220,000 for an individual and $440,000 for a corporation.


While creating biosecurity management plans is still voluntary, it is strongly recommended by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.


Biosecurity management plans must meet a series of minimum requirements to be enforceable under these regulations. Minimum standards include:

  • The Management Plan must be in active use on your property.

  • The biosecurity management area must be made clear.

  • You must place signs at each entrance to the biosecurity management area. They must notify visitors that they are entering an area covered by a biosecurity management plan.


Agriculture Victoria states that "a farm-specific biosecurity plan is the best management tool on poultry farms to reduce the risk of introducing infectious diseases."


In Victoria, the Livestock Management Act 2010 is in place. Under the terms of this act, poultry and ratites are considered to be livestock.


Under changes made to this act, visitors failing to follow the measures of biosecurity plans can be an offence.


Biosecurity management plan coversheets are required for a biosecurity plan to be covered by this framework. Visitor consent procedures and clear signage is also necessary to take advantage of these protections.


Biosecurity regulations in Queensland make a clear distinction between biosecurity plans and biosecurity management plans.


Biosecurity plans are documents that outline biosecurity risks to a property, facility or local government area. They also outline processes used to manage biosecurity risks.


Per the Biosecurity Regulation 2016, biosecurity management plans have additional requirements. They must be followed by site visitors, unless the visitors have "legal access to land".


Visitors covered by "legal access to land" include electricity providers, resource and gas companies, licence or permit holders, or those who have a contract to enter the property.


Failure to comply with a biosecurity plan constitutes an offence in certain situations. Namely, it is an offence if this failure occurs on a place that is a registered biosecurity entity.

Western Australia

Western Australia's key piece of biosecurity legislation, the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, does not place specific legal standing on biosecurity plans. Poultry producers in WA should familiarise themselves with this legislation and manage their operations accordingly.

South Australia

There is currently proposed legislative reform in process in South Australia when it comes to biosecurity. A draft biosecurity bill is currently being considered to replace pieces of existing legislation.


Draft versions of this bill do not currently address biosecurity management plans. This means that the legal standing of poultry farm biosecurity plans is unlikely to change.


Until this new biosecurity bill comes into force, poultry producers should continue to comply with relevant legislation like the Livestock Act 1997.


Poultry farm biosecurity plans in Tasmania do not have the same legal standing found in NSW or Victoria. When creating a plan, farmers should be familiar with the Biosecurity Regulations 2022.

Maintain biosecurity on your poultry farm with Onside

Managing biosecurity on your poultry farm can seem overwhelming. Onside's farm management app can make things significantly easier.


Onside's biosecurity features include:

  • Check-in questions: Onside's check-in functionality enables you to screen for biosecurity threats with questions like "Have you been on another farm in the last 30 days?".

  • Mobile alerts: If a visitor's answer appears to present a biosecurity risk, you can receive a mobile alert and swiftly address the situation.

  • Record-keeping: Collect a digital history of property visitors and access it from anywhere. This makes it easy to instantly access a visitor's contact details.

  • Onside Intelligence: Onside Intelligence works with governments and industry bodies to help manage biosecurity threats. Farmers can share data with external bodies to help facilitate the best possible response.

Onside is the perfect addition to your biosecurity practices.

Book a demo today to learn more about how Onside can help protect your agribusiness.